Understanding Spring Ayurveda: Healthy Habits for Kapha Seasonal Wellbeing.

I love spring. It’s my favourite season, it overflows with enthusiasm, there’s a reason it’s called the season of new beginnings. It’s the time when we emerge from our winter hibernation and start to venture out into the world once more, opening ourselves up to more social gatherings. Yet, despite the promise of fresh starts, I am feeling a lingering hangover from the colder months. Do you also find yourself hitting the snooze button more frequently, or feeling congested and groggy? In Ayurveda (Yoga’s sister science), spring is the season of the Kapha dosha, characterised by its earthiness. Kapha is slow and heavy, often quite sluggish.

Now that we’ve moved from the airy season of Vata, where our diet required us to eat more earthy, grounding foods to balance the airiness of Vata. It often means we’re moving into the new season with an excess and imbalance of Kapha. Just like nature, as the season changes, Ayurveda encourages us to adjust and adapt our diet and lifestyle habits to regain balance. Creating a healthy routine that aligns with the rhythms of nature and the cycle of the sun is considered the optimal way to live day to day in Ayurveda.

There’s so much to embrace about this time of year: longer days, blossoming flowers all around, and the welcome warmth from the sun. Even the birds seem a little chirpier! Spring is the season of transition, of new beginnings. Just as Mother Nature moves in a fluid and organic way, so should our springtime routine.

Spring, the season of Kapha.

The season of Kapha is typically associated with late winter and spring, governed by the earth and water elements. During this time, there’s a little more warmth and moisture in nature. In Sanskrit “Kapha” translates as “that which flourishes in water.” Highlighting the characteristically heaviness and slowness of this season, compared to the more dynamic energy of summer.  April showers anyone?

In Ayurveda, like increases like. It is often said that in springtime the Kapha dosha begins to melt, so not uncommon to experience excess Kapha in your body. This can manifest in various symptoms of imbalance. Including congestion, upper respiratory infections, excess mucus, colds, nasal congestion, a loss of appetite, springtime allergies, or lethargy and a slow metabolism. All of which can contribute to feelings of stagnation and sluggishness in both the body and mind. Using a Neti Pot (a sinus rinse with salt) daily as part of your morning routine helps to reduce risk of seasonal allergies, and clear congestion and the mind.

Imagine if kapha was ice, during the cooler winter months it remains solid and stationary in one place, but as the weather warms, it begins to melt and flow.

Similarly, external environmental changes can impact our internal equilibrium. Therefore, adopting a seasonal routine tailored to the qualities of spring is essential to maintain balance. By adjusting your daily habits and practices in alignment with the changing season, you can honour and harmonise with the subtle shifts in nature’s rhythms, promoting health and vitality.

Ayurveda spring diet
The Ayurvedic Spring Diet.

In Ayurveda food is medicine. This ancient science teaches us the best way to manage our health and wellbeing is to adjust our diet and lifestyle according to the season. During spring, you may find yourself naturally gravitating towards lighter, less oily foods, and craving more fruits, fresh vegetables, and salads.

As we know, spring can be unpredictable; after all it is a season of transition. So, it’s essential to keep your spring routine flexible, including your diet. As the weather warms up, you may find you need to balance Kapha, particularly if you’re feeling sluggish or lacking in energy. Opt for foods with less moisture and a little more heat. This is the perfect time of year to add a little spice to your meals, such as ginger, black pepper, garlic, cumin, turmeric, and black mustard seeds.

Start your day with a large glass of warm water and lemon; this will boost your entire digestive system. According to Ayurveda, your main meal of the day should coincide with the sun is at its highest; this is when your digestive system is strongest. Eat lightest in the evening, ideally before 7.30pm.

When you select foods, choose seasonal fruits and vegetables, as well as and legumes like lentils and quinoa. Focus on leafy greens that are bitter and astringent in taste, such as radishes, asparagus, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, green beans, and lettuce to name a few. Limit or avoid heavy, sour, and sweet fruits like oranges, bananas, pineapple, figs, dates, coconuts as they can aggravate or increase Kapha. Ram and I have a vegetarian diet, but if you consume meat, think about reducing your intake.

Additionally, avoid snacking between meals and reduce your consumption of fried or oily foods.  Consider switching to alternative milk options such as almond or rice milk. If you prefer cow’s milk, drink it warm and try adding a pinch of ginger or turmeric to aid digestion.

Camel Pose spring yoga
What Ayurveda says about movement in Spring.

It’s time to get outside, move your body, and take advantage of the longer days. Importantly, establish a springtime routine where you rise with the sun. Enjoy being in the nature that surrounds you, breath in the fresh air and take regular exercise. These are the best ways to fire up Kapha and reduce any feelings of sluggishness or inertia.

As with all exercise, do something that you love; you will feel more motivated to continue if you do so. Whether it’s running, cycling, walking, swimming hiking, or attending a yoga class, Ayurveda suggests the best time to move your body is before you eat breakfast. The second-best time is early evening. Additionally, taking a short 10-minute walk after each meal you will give your digestive fire a health boost.

Adapting your yoga practice for Spring.

How can you adjust your yoga practice to align with the energies of spring? You can go a little more dynamic elements to your asana. Include sun salutations and standing postures, but also focus on asana where the emphasis is on opening the heart space, cleansing the lungs, and warming your kidneys. ⁠

During spring, when allergies and congestion are most common, incorporating heart opening back bends like Ustrasana (Camel pose) can be especially beneficial. This posture helps to open the chest and heart space, energising your body. Spinal twists are also beneficial, as they massage the abdomen and stimulate the digestive organs, aiding in detoxification and digestion.

For your pranayama (breathwork) practice, include invigorating practices like Kapalabhati, and Bhastrika, which help to stoke the digestive fire and boost your energy. Regardless of the season, Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing) help to bring balance and harmony.

Finally, allow time for reflection in your meditation practice. We incorporate our meditation practice into the mornings when the mind is at its quietest. Use this time to connect back in, it really sets a positive mindset for the day ahead.

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